Norway’s Magnus Carlsen claimed his fifth world chess crown in Dubai on Friday with a huge 4-0 (four wins, zero loss) and 7.5-3.5 victory against Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, who faded badly after going toe-to-toe with the Norwegian defending champion in the early games.
The 31-year-old Carlsen benefited from a blunder by his Russian challenger to win his fourth game of the match, with the black pieces, to take an unassailable lead in the best-of-14 contest.
His large margin of victory made it the most one-sided world championship since Jose Raul Capablanca of Cuba defeated German Emmanuel Lasker 9-5 in 1921 – an outcome that few would have bet on during the contest’s initial stages.
After five games there were five draws, however, the contest sprang to life in game 6, won by Carlsen with the white pieces after seven hours 45 minutes and 136 moves – the longest game in world championship history.
A dull 41-move draw followed in game 7 before Carlsen won again with white in game 8. Nepomniachtchi made another error in game 9, letting his light-square bishop get trapped after just 27 moves and leaving Carlsen on the brink of a fourth successful title defence.
After another draw, Friday’s game 11 showed that Nepomniachtchi, the world number five, had not recovered from his earlier defeats as he lost focus again, as Carlsen won the 11th game with black pieces in 49 moves.
The 14-game match in Dubai thus ended with three games to go.
It is Carlsen’s fifth successive world title. He had defeated Viswanathan Anand in 2013 and 2014, Sergey Karjakin in 2016 and Fabiano Caruana in 2018.